Monday, July 24, 2006

Specter: Surveillance We Can Live With Specter: Surveillance We Can Live With

Arlen Specter, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and one of the fierest Republican critics of the NSA international surveilance program in the Senate, in a WaPo article: Surveillance We Can Live With defends the proposed changes to FISA. He first talks about the agreement to put the program up for review with the NSA court. But he also outlines some of the modernizations of the almost 30 year old act.
[The bill would] also modernizes FISA in important ways, giving the president added flexibility in protecting the country. The bill extends from three days to seven the time, in emergency situations, that the government can conduct surveillance without the court's permission. It permits the attorney general to delegate his authority to seek emergency warrants to subordinate officials. And it exempts from FISA's jurisdiction communications between two persons overseas that gets routed through domestic servers. The bill would also transfer the various lawsuits challenging the program to the FISC for consideration under its secure procedures.
This is preeminently reasonable. My position all along has been that the reason that the much needed program is putatively illegal under FISA is that that law is totally outmoded (as I have pointed out previously, including in a recent blog article below). And the proposed bill provides almost all of what I would like to see, modernizing the law, without gutting it.

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